WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — It’s a second Smithsonian National Zoo Director Brandie Smith has dreaded bidding farewell to the establishment’s big pandas.
“There are billions of people who have admired, celebrated, loved our giant pandas,” Smith stated.
Early Wednesday, the three pandas have been moved into crates and ready for his or her 19-hour journey back to China.
But they will not be alone.
“We have three zoo staff members, we have two of their favorite keepers, we have a veterinarian on board,” Smith stated. “And basically, they’re gonna do with them what they do every day.”
Pandas have been a part of the National Zoo for greater than 50 years, and Chinese Embassy Minister Xu Xueyuan stated the pandas do not solely belong to China.
“Giant pandas also belong to the world,” Xueyuan stated.
The pandas’ return comes whereas the U.S. and China face rising diplomatic tensions.
“We have an obligation, the United States and China to responsibly manage the relationship,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated.
President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping will meet subsequent week, however there is no phrase on whether or not pandas will likely be on the agenda.
“There are a number of areas and issues upon which we hope to make progress,” Blinken stated.
For now, all pandas in the U.S. are anticipated to return to China by the finish of subsequent yr, however Director Smith stays hopeful.
“I cannot imagine Washington D.C. without giant pandas, and I will do everything I can to bring them back,” Smith stated.